Frank James

Frank James joined NPR News in April 2009 to launch the blog, "The Two-Way," with co-blogger Mark Memmott.

"The Two-Way" is the place where NPR.org gives readers breaking news and analysis — and engages users in conversations ("two-ways") about the most compelling stories being reported by NPR News and other news media.

James came to NPR from the Chicago Tribune, where he worked for 20 years. In 2006, James created "The Swamp," the paper's successful politics and policy news blog whose readership climbed to a peak of 3 million page-views a month.

Before that, James covered homeland security, technology and privacy and economics in the Tribune's Washington Bureau. He also reported for the Tribune from South Africa and covered politics and higher education.

James also reported for The Wall Street Journal for nearly 10 years.

James received a bachelor of arts degree in English from Dickinson College and now serves on its board of trustees.

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It's All Politics
3:01 pm
Sat February 23, 2013

Top GOP Voter ID Crusader Loses Virginia Election Panel Post

Hans Von Spakovsky in his official FEC photo taken during former President George W. Bush's administration.
FEC.gov

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 7:24 am

To those who closely follow the voter ID wars, Hans von Spakovsky is a household name, one of the nation's leading crusaders against voter fraud, and also one of its more controversial. Days before the 2012 election, The New Yorker profiled him as "the man who has stoked fear about imposters at the poll."

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It's All Politics
3:08 pm
Tue February 19, 2013

Whose Sequester Is It Anyway?

President Obama, accompanied by emergency responders — workers the White House says could be affected if state and local governments lose federal money as a result of budget cuts — speaks in the Eisenhower Executive Office building in Washington on Tuesday.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Tue February 19, 2013 4:02 pm

By now, it's widely accepted that indiscriminate spending cuts in defense and domestic programs due to start March 1 are likely to occur owing to the failure of President Obama and the Republican-led House to reach an agreement to avoid the budgetary cleaver.

So now, the contest boils down to each side scampering for the higher ground of moral indignation.

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It's All Politics
4:33 pm
Thu February 14, 2013

Lautenberg Retirement Ends Potential May-December Senate Fight With Booker

Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker speaks last year at a ceremony at City Hall.
Seth Wenig AP

Originally published on Thu February 14, 2013 5:21 pm

The potential Democratic Party contest for a U.S. Senate seat between 89-year-old Sen. Frank Lautenberg and 43-year-old Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker had been shaping up to be a generational battle royale.

Alas, it won't happen now that Lautenberg has announced that he won't run for re-election in New Jersey's 2014 Senate race. In a statement, the octogenarian senator said:

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It's All Politics
6:52 am
Tue February 12, 2013

4 Things To Expect In Obama's State Of The Union Address

President Obama delivers his State of the Union address last year. On Tuesday night, he will be back at the Capitol for another address to a joint session of Congress.
Getty Images

Originally published on Tue February 12, 2013 7:32 am

President Obama's second inaugural address was widely perceived as a throwing down of the gauntlet in how it framed his progressive faith in government and challenged his Republican political opponents in any number of ways.

Given that, expect to see more glove-throwing Tuesday as the president delivers the first State of the Union speech of his second term.

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It's All Politics
2:44 pm
Fri February 8, 2013

6 Reasons Ashley Judd Is The Target Of An Attack Ad

Ashley Judd, who has said she's considering a challenge to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, is now the subject of a Karl Rove-backed attack ad.
Matt Sayles AP

Originally published on Fri February 8, 2013 2:48 pm

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It's All Politics
11:21 am
Fri February 8, 2013

Death By Drone, And The Sliding Scale Of Presidential Power

An unmanned drone armed with Hellfire missiles is shown over southern Afghanistan. A Hellfire missile fired from a drone was used in 2011 to kill an American in Yemen who the Obama administration says was an al-Qaida leader. Another American died in that attack, and a 16-year-old American was killed in a separate drone strike.
Lt. Col. Leslie Pratt AP

Originally published on Fri February 8, 2013 12:00 pm

The controversy over President Obama's targeted-killings-by-drone policy is a reminder that the default position of presidents in times of crisis is generally to side with national security over civil liberties.

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It's All Politics
4:29 pm
Tue February 5, 2013

Viral Story About Free Wi-Fi Spotlights Mostly Hidden Policy War

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski last year warned of a "war on Wi-Fi."
Jacquelyn Martin AP

Originally published on Wed February 6, 2013 10:48 am

(Revised on 2/6/1013 at 12:28 pm ET to include FCC comment.)

In Washington, there's always one kind of alleged war or another against some group or idea — the war on women, the war on religion and the war on the Second Amendment come quickly to mind.

This week, many of us became aware of another supposed conflict we had never heard of: essentially, a war on Wi-Fi.

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It's All Politics
3:43 pm
Fri February 1, 2013

Why Steven Chu Was One Of Obama's Most Intriguing Choices

Energy Secretary Steven Chu tours the Vogtle nuclear power plant in Waynesboro, Ga., last year.
David Goldman AP

Of all the individuals in President Obama's first-term Cabinet, physicist Steven Chu was arguably the least likely to be found in official Washington.

The Energy Department secretary, after all, was a Nobel Prize-winning physicist from the University of California, Berkeley, the first science laureate to serve as a Cabinet secretary.

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It's All Politics
4:38 pm
Thu January 31, 2013

Hagel's Hearing: 7 Things We Learned

Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel testifies Thursday before the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 31, 2013 5:56 pm

So what did we learn from Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel's sometimes rocky confirmation hearing Thursday before the Senate Armed Services Committee?

1) We learned that the former two-term Republican senator from Nebraska with the reputation for speaking his mind and not sticking to his party's talking points has through the years said lots of things that could be used against him in such a setting.

And they were. Repeatedly.

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It's All Politics
9:38 am
Thu January 24, 2013

5 Things To Know About The Congressional Budget Fight

Sen. Dean Heller (left), R-Nev., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., speak Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol about legislation to delay a potential clash over the debt ceiling until May — and to freeze the paychecks of lawmakers if they don't pass a budget resolution.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 24, 2013 10:11 am

As if the federal budget process isn't confusing enough, now we get the fog of partisan war created by the charges and countercharges flying between congressional Democrats and Republicans.

Republicans accuse the Democrats who control the Senate of shirking their duty by not producing "a budget" in recent years; Democrats accuse Republicans of not telling the whole truth.

What's going on? Here are five points to consider.

1) The Budget Control Act

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It's All Politics
1:35 pm
Tue January 22, 2013

For GOP, Obama's 'Very Ideological' Speech Not Wearing Well

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., arrives at President Obama's inauguration Monday on Capitol Hill. On Tuesday, Ryan, who ran for vice president on the losing Republican ticket last year, said Obama's inaugural address showed a "proud and confident liberal progressive."
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Tue January 22, 2013 4:15 pm

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It's All Politics
4:03 am
Sun January 20, 2013

Obama So Far: Making History, Inspiring An Opposition

President Obama walks outside the Oval Office on May 3.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Sun January 20, 2013 7:17 am

Any American president hoping to stake a claim to being viewed by future generations as great and transformative — or at least very good and effective — would be wise to choose his predecessor well.

To that end, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan probably couldn't have done better than to follow, respectively, James Buchanan, Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Carter.

Similarly, President Obama no doubt benefited from comparisons to George W. Bush, who's unlikely to make many historians' lists of the presidential greats.

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It's All Politics
2:43 pm
Tue January 15, 2013

Don't Be Fooled By New York; Gun Control Faces Long Odds In States, Too

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs New York's new gun-control law Tuesday in Albany, N.Y.
Mike Groll AP

Originally published on Tue January 15, 2013 4:41 pm

If you didn't know any better, you might think that even if new gun control proposals from President Obama become stalled in Washington's gridlock, the states will rush in to fill the void.

After all, under its Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York has responded to December's Newtown tragedy by passing legislation banning assault weapons and making it harder for seriously mentally ill individuals to legally obtain firearms.

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It's All Politics
3:39 pm
Mon January 14, 2013

Obama's Woman Problem Is A Problem Of His Own Making

President Obama holds a news conference Monday in the East Room of the White House.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Mon March 25, 2013 12:45 pm

Does President Obama have a problem with women?

On the level of appearances, he certainly does. Which is why at his Monday news conference, he found himself responding to criticisms about the lack of diversity in his picks so far for his second-term Cabinet — State, Treasury, Defense and CIA — who have all been white men.

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It's All Politics
2:20 pm
Thu January 10, 2013

Experience Trumps Hope In Obama's Second-Term Cabinet Selections

President Obama nominates Jacob Lew to be his second-term Treasury secretary on Thursday at the White House.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 11, 2013 10:34 am

A re-elected president who gets to choose a second-term Cabinet has much more knowledge of the kind of team he needs than he did the first time around.

That's one simple way to understand President Obama's decisions as he creates his Cabinet 2.0.

The choices are not those of a president-elect who hasn't moved into the White House, or of a green president who hasn't watched his first international crisis unfold from his leather seat in the White House Situation Room.

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It's All Politics
3:42 pm
Mon January 7, 2013

Why Hagel? Let Us Count The Reasons

President Obama nominates former Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., to be defense secretary Monday at the White House.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Sun January 13, 2013 7:02 am

So why did President Obama choose Chuck Hagel to be his new defense secretary?

First, Hagel is Obama's kind of Republican. The former senator from Nebraska is a realist and pragmatist who hasn't been afraid to buck the orthodoxy of his chosen party, for instance when Hagel opposed the Iraq War.

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It's All Politics
2:00 pm
Sat January 5, 2013

What Happens When The Speaker Isn't Talking?

President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner at the White House in November.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Wed January 9, 2013 8:13 am

The last thing Washington policymakers need is another obstacle to reaching agreements in the next two months on mandatory spending cuts and raising the nation's debt limit.

But the start of the new 113th Congress brought word that House Speaker John Boehner had sworn off future one-on-one negotiations with President Obama.

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It's All Politics
4:45 am
Thu January 3, 2013

Was Boehner's Fiscal Cliff End Run Past GOP The New Normal?

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio (right), and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., enter a Republican caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

By letting the House take up the Senate's fiscal cliff-dodging legislation that raises income tax rates on the wealthiest earners, Speaker John Boehner answered affirmatively a question that had been on many minds: Would he allow an up-or-down floor vote on a bill opposed by most fellow House Republicans?

Until the New Year's Day vote, Boehner had generally operated the House under what was known as the Hastert Rule. Named for former Speaker Dennis Hastert, it required a "majority of the majority" to support legislation before the speaker approved a floor vote.

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It's All Politics
11:27 am
Fri December 21, 2012

Boehner's Power Outage Dimming Obama's Options As Well

House Speaker John Boehner speaks at a press conference Friday on Capitol Hill.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 11:53 am

The most important measure of power on Capitol Hill can be summed up with a question: "Do you have the votes?"

For House Speaker John Boehner, the answer once again appears to be "no." In a move that's hard to view as anything short of humiliating for the speaker, Boehner had to shelve his own "Plan B" fiscal-cliff-avoidance proposal Thursday evening after it became clear he couldn't get enough fellow Republicans to support it.

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It's All Politics
1:05 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Cory Booker Eyes (Chris Christie-Free) Path To His Political Future

Newark Mayor Cory Booker greets a 13-year-old at a relief center for those affected by Superstorm Sandy, in November.
Julio Cortez AP

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 1:25 pm

Here was the choice facing Newark Mayor Cory Booker: Run next year against New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, whose popularity would have made the Republican exceedingly difficult to beat; or fix his gaze on the Senate seat now occupied by an 88-year-old fellow Democrat, Sen.

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It's All Politics
3:59 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

With Nation's Eyes On Newtown, Washington Distracted By Fiscal Cliff

President Obama, with Vice President Biden at his side on Wednesday, at a news conference about gun violence that became dominated by questions of the fiscal cliff.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 4:34 pm

Anyone hoping that the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre might change dynamics in the nation's capital when it comes to the issue of guns met some level of Washington reality on Wednesday.

President Obama held a news conference to announce his response to the Connecticut killings of 26 grade-schoolers and educators, including his naming of Vice President Joe Biden to head a team that will recommend in a month actions that might help prevent future Sandy Hooks.

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It's All Politics
3:50 pm
Tue December 18, 2012

Obama Finding Gun Control Voice, Which Had Gone Quiet In White House

President Obama attends a vigil for the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims on Sunday in Newtown, Conn.
Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 18, 2012 4:23 pm

If President Obama takes the lead in a movement for more effective gun control now that he's been stirred to action by the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, it would mark a significant break from his pattern so far as chief executive.

For while Obama has dutifully served as the nation's consoler in chief in localities where the all-too-frequent mass shootings have occurred, that has seemed the extent of the official response observable to White House outsiders.

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It's All Politics
10:28 am
Mon December 17, 2012

Open-Government Watchdogs OK With Closed-Door Fiscal Cliff Talks

House Speaker John Boehner arrives at the White House on Thursday for a meeting with President Obama. The two men met again in private on Monday in an effort to reach a deal to avoid the "fiscal cliff."
Jacquelyn Martin AP

Originally published on Tue December 18, 2012 10:48 am

If President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner's closed-door meetings aimed at solving the fiscal cliff crisis trouble anyone, you'd expect it to be the open-government watchdogs who routinely bark their outrage at public officials who work overtime to avoid public scrutiny.

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It's All Politics
3:57 pm
Fri December 14, 2012

Obama Remembers 'Beautiful Little Kids,' Calls For 'Meaningful Action'

President Obama pauses as he speaks at the White House about Friday's school shooting in Newtown, Conn.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 5:22 pm

Horrible acts of violence have forced President Obama to speak to a shocked nation after several mass shootings — at a shopping center in Arizona, a Colorado movie theater, a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and, on Friday, a Connecticut elementary school.

Each time his sadness has been readily visible, mirroring the feelings of millions of Americans.

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It's All Politics
12:56 pm
Wed December 12, 2012

When It Comes To Entitlements, Obama Feels Heat From Left And Right

A protester at a fiscal cliff rally on Monday in Doral, Fla.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 1:12 pm

Despite his re-election and more Democratic seats in Congress, President Obama has far from a free hand to make the kind of comprehensive deal House Speaker John Boehner and other Republicans are demanding — one that includes cuts to entitlement programs.

Strong resistance to that notion is coming from the political left, including warnings that while Obama won't have another re-election, most of his allies on Capitol Hill will be facing voters again.

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It's All Politics
3:27 am
Sat December 8, 2012

Once Boxed-In, Boehner May Finally Be Master Of The House

Originally published on Mon December 10, 2012 10:42 am

Not long ago, it seemed to many observers that the House of Representatives was a case of the tail wagging the dog, with Speaker John Boehner unable to keep in line many of his fellow Republicans, especially freshmen who came to Congress riding the 2010 Tea Party wave.

Now, however, the big dog seems back in control.

Some of the signs are subtle, some not. But as he faces off with President Obama during fiscal cliff negotiations, Boehner enjoys a stronger position with House Republicans than he had during earlier showdowns with the White House.

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It's All Politics
3:27 pm
Thu December 6, 2012

DeMint's Exit Creates Political Ripples, Raises Questions For Tea Party

Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., speaks to the media after a Republican caucus luncheon last year. He's joined by (from left): Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.; Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.; Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
Alex Brandon AP

Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 6:51 am

When Thursday dawned in Washington, some things seemed certain: The fiscal cliff fight would continue; the National Christmas Tree would be aglow by evening, and Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina would continue to be the Senate's most important Tea Party voice.

So much for Washington certainties.

With his surprise announcement that he was exiting the Senate to head the Heritage Foundation think tank, a job that paid his predecessor $1 million annually, DeMint brought to an end his role as the Tea Party's godfather in the Senate.

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It's All Politics
10:39 am
Sat December 1, 2012

Think Congressional Gridlock Is Bad? If Reid Changes Filibuster Rules, Look Out

Jimmy Stewart in a scene from the 1939 film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.
AP

Originally published on Mon December 3, 2012 10:44 am

Sen. Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, was clearly frustrated with the tactics some of his colleagues were using to gum up the legislative process.

The mere threat of a filibuster of a procedural motion to allow the defense authorization bill to be considered on the floor caused the Senate's leadership to balk at scheduling the legislation at all.

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It's All Politics
3:30 pm
Wed November 28, 2012

In Fiscal Cliff PR War, Obama Seeks Help From A Public Already Leaning His Way

President Obama speaks Wednesday while meeting with citizens at the White House. Obama called on Republicans to halt an automatic tax hike for middle-class Americans.
Jewel Samad AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 5:18 pm

In Washington's latest game of chicken, President Obama is counting on voters who see things his way to give him the edge in his quest to get congressional Republicans to accept tax increases on the nation's wealthiest as part of any fiscal cliff deal.

To energize those voters, the president is ramping up a series of campaign-style events meant to educate the public about the stakes, as he sees them, of letting the Bush-era tax cuts for middle-class Americans expire if no agreement is reached by year's end.

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It's All Politics
1:57 pm
Mon November 26, 2012

New 'War On Christmas' Takes A Fiscal-Cliff Twist

The Christmas shopping season could be harmed if the fiscal cliff fight depresses consumer confidence, according to a new report from Obama administration economists.
Andrew Kelly Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 5:19 pm

In past years, conservatives have used the phrase "war on Christmas" to liberally accuse liberals of trying to ruin the holiday through political correctness and anti-religiousness.

This year, it's the Obama White House warning that Republicans are a threat to Christmas or, more precisely, the part of the economy that relies on the holiday shopping season — retail sales.

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